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Martin Kenney: Tackling corruption means tackling the proceeds of crime

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has said corruption adds 10 percent to business costs globally.

In Malta late last year, Cameron urged Commonwealth leaders to clamp down on graft, saying: Corruption wrecks economies, prevents development, and corrodes our societies. It can even foment  terrorism.”

When I hear the PM advising other world leaders in effect to “follow the money” and “return stolen assets,” it mirrors exactly what I have been extolling for a number of years. That is, it’s pointless to deal with corruption in isolation. Once detected and prosecuted, a parallel legal process is required to ensure perpetrators do not enjoy their ill-gotten gains.

It is this secondary course of action that is regularly omitted from corruption proceedings. Putting offenders in prison is one thing, but hitting them and their enablers — (namely the banks, lawyers, and accountants who help wash the fructus corruptioin the pocket book is quite another.

If we reform the law of civil liability of bankers, lawyers and other enablers of corruption by imposing a duty of care sounded in negligence to the victims of fraud or corruption, with damages flowing for breach of that duty, it will help deter those who might otherwise help the perpetrators of graft.

David Cameron said of corruption: We must “fight this cancer.” In order to do so, a criminal investigation into graft must be seen as simply the start of a much bigger and more significant solution to the problem.

Only by employing civil recovery against the enablers of corruption in tandem with the criminal investigation will we deter all those who engage in this “cancerous” activity.


Martin Kenney is Managing Partner of Martin Kenney & Co., Solicitors, a specialist investigative and asset recovery practice focused on multi-jurisdictional fraud and grand corruption cases |@MKSolicitors.

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  1. It is interesting to know that the boundaries of corruption are narrowing very fast. David Cameron's statement advising other world leaders to “follow the money" and "return stolen assets," has been the cry of citizens of most developing countries to these world leaders over the last half century or more. Leaders in advanced economies must follow stolen monies (monies obtained through corrupt means) from developing countries and return these without further delay. It is of utmost importance to match these words with actions. When this is done, leaders in developing countries will become more responsive to needs of the citizenry because they know there is nowhere to hide stolen state monies.

  2. From experience as a London based investigation firm, I do agree on impact to business cost and that I have seen of in the UK. I feel that there is much more that industries, including professional Investigation companies can do to progress the matter in the UK, and cross the globe.

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